Often times when I tell people our toddler is in forest school,they wonder how the toddlers actually get to the forest. Some think that we just leave our kids out in the woods all the time, some think that we must drive miles into the deep groves of trees…”Sounds great, ” they always say, and follow it up with a statement about how they would never have time to have such a complicated morning routine.
The truth is, a forest school drop-off doesn’t necessarily have to be anymore complicated than any other school drop-off. In our case, we have a building drop-off structure, which is about a mile and change from our home. This meeting point building serves as the central location for drop-off and pick-up. In our case, we’re pretty lucky because said building is right next to the train and bus lines, and where we live there is already a fair amount of forest space. So the kids from our program either take public transportation or rely on the good work of their own too feet to get around, and things are already closer. Every once in a blue moon they might take a chartered bus somewhere if it’s a more complex outing, but that’s rare. After all, the point isn’t to scale Everest here (good thing too as Denmark is about as flat as a sheet of paper) but rather, to be outside, whether it’s 5 feet away or 5 miles away.
For forest schools that are based in the city, they might do something similar, or they might have a structure where a chartered bus meets them every morning to take them out to the woods and then return. That avoids some of the public transportation, but that also means that if you miss the bus in the morning, you literally miss the bus. Those schools tends to be a little more organized on departure times, whereas ours is pretty flexible. You still have to be there at a certain time of course, but the kids have a fair amount of flexibility on how the day is planned out in terms of getting around and getting back, which they can adjust pretty quickly if for whatever reason there is a weather change, or a few kids aren’t feeling 100%…(side note: kids have to be pretty sick here in order to get sent home. As a result of being outside all of the time, most forest school kids rarely gets sick but it does happen that colds and such can make the rounds. If the school finds that one or a few of the kids aren’t feeling so hot, they usually just come up with an easier schedule or slower pace – but if kids are really out of sorts, then they will definitely call).
One of the other unexpected benefits of this all has been that our daughter has become pretty comfortable on public transportations of all kinds. She knows all the train announcements by heart, and has a good sense of getting on and off trains and buses and the like. It’s not uncommon to see kids getting around town independently here – either on their bikes, or on public transportation. When you see how early they start them, it starts to make more sense. After all, getting yourself from point A to point B is a life skill, regardless if it’s in the wilds of the forest or the deepest of urban jungles.